Patently Silly

It seems the inventors of the world will always supply myriad solutions whether there’s a problem or not. Full appreciation of this strange relationship will only come through a visit to NY-based comedian Daniel Wright and designer Alex Eben Meyer constructed the site to reveal some of the a) really weird, b) really cool or c) really scary patents that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office certify all the time. The beauty in the site is the simple concept-two people constantly checking the patent office for the strangest contraptions the U.S. public can come up with. Simply viewing these items makes me second guess what a person might consider “essential” or “convenient.” In fact, those words quickly started to lose their meaning once I spend too much time here. The condom with “inflatable portion” is the latest highlight, in which the head can be inflated and deflated at the user’s request. There’s also the cordless jump rope, which simulates the act of jumping rope with counter-weights without involving a rope in any way.

The site’s drafting-board layout adds so much when you actually see diagrams of the items themselves. The textbook-drawn images remind you that there was effort put into these ideas-actual sweat and tears-to make your life easier. While some, like the “electrode apparatus for stimulating penile, urethral, and anal tissue” might look a little intimidating (and confusing), others such as the “deer stomp simulator” are crystal clear in their intent. But even if you only spend a few moments browsing this site, promise me that you’ll look at patent # US 6982161. This one is genius among mediocrity. Some chap or lady has come up with a “process for the utilization of ruminant animal methane emissions.” That’s right, this is a cow-fart (called “belches”) filtration system, fixed to a harness to be worn by a cow. The invention traps the nasty musk and filters it through a “rubber diaphragm” into a small, micro-organism-laden capsule which can be sold as “nutritional foodstuff” at a later time. The diligent inventor and the flatulent cow. This stuff writes itself. (James King)